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October Marks The 20th Anniversary Of The Death Of Leonard Bernstein

 Twenty years ago this month , the legendary American conductor,pianist,teacher and all-around musical genius Leonard Bernstein passed away at the age of 72,not very old for a conductor when you consider that many great ones have been active through their 80s. He was the first American conductor to achieve world renown and the first to become music director of a major US orchestra,the New York Philharmonic, with which he had a lifetime association. His success paved the way for many other prominent American conductors ever since.

  He was also the composer of such beloved boradway shows as West Side Story and On the Town,as well as of serious works for the concert hall ,the mentor of such important conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas and Marin Alsop and others, and one of the most important movers and shakers in 20th century classical music. He initiated the famous Young People's Concerts of the New York Philharmonic,which introduced so many youngsters to classical music and inspired many important American classical musicians in their youth to make classical music their life goal,as well as countless other people who fell under his spell at concerts.

  Bernstein was a regular conductor of such great orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony , Bavarian Radio Orchestra,the Israel Philharmonic and the French National orchestra to name only a few, and also conducted at the Metropolitan opera,Vienna State opera and La Scala Milan, but unfortunately did not devote as much time to conducting opera as he should have, and made an enormous number of recordings with numerous different orchestras of repertoire ranging from Mozart Haydn and Beethoven to 20th great century composers such as his close friend Aaron Copland, Stravinsky,Charles Ives, and his own music.

  Despite his many triumphs, Bernstein's life was filled with controversy , rumors of scandals and sensationalistic publicity.  He was torn with doubt about his staure as a composer and hoped that he would be remembered for his serious works as well as his most popular show music. 

  Some music critics attacked him for his allegedly self-indulgent interpretations of such composers as Brahms,Mahler,whose music he championed throughout his life,even before it became an established part of the repertoire, Beethoven and other composers ,and also sneered at his serious works,calling them shallow and pretentious.  But audiences all over the world adored "Lenny" ,as well as the musicians of the many orchestras with which he worked.  Leonard Bernstein will be remembered as long as classical music exists . 

Posted: Oct 25 2010, 09:11 AM by the horn | with no comments
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